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Chapter VI.—Of Apollo and Daphne, and of the holy Babylas.

Julian, wishing to make a campaign against the Persians, dispatched the trustiest of his officers to all the oracles throughout the Roman Empire, while he himself went as a suppliant to implore the Pythian oracle of Daphne to make known to him the future. The oracle responded that the corpses lying hard by were becoming an obstacle to divination; that they must first be removed to another spot; and that then he would utter his prophecy, for, said he, “I could say nothing, if the grove be not purified.” Now at that time there were lying there the relics of the victorious martyr Babylas621621    Babylas, bishop of Antioch from 238 to 251, was martyred in the Decian persecution either by death in prison (Euseb. H. E. vi. 39 μετὰ τὴν ὁμολογίαν ἐν δεσμωτηρί& 251· μεταλλάξαντος) or by violence. (Chrys. de s. B. c. gentes) “Babylas had won for himself a name by his heroic courage as bishop of Antioch. It was related of him that on one occasion when the emperor Philip, who was a Christian, had presented himself one Easter Eve at the time of prayer, he had boldly refused admission to the sovereign, till he had gone through the proper discipline of a penitent for some offence committed. (Eus. H. E. vi. 34.) He acted like a good shepherd, says Chrysostom, who drives away the scabby sheep, lest it should infect the flock.” Bp. Lightfoot, Ap. Fathers II. i. p. 40–46. and the lads who had gloriously suffered with him, and the lying prophet was plainly stopped from uttering his wonted lies by the holy influence of Babylas. Julian was aware of this, for his ancient piety had taught him the power of victorious martyrs, and so he removed no other body from the spot, but only ordered the worshippers of Christ to translate the relics of the victorious martyrs. They marched with joy to the grove,622622    “The Daphnean Sanctuary was four or five miles distant from the city.” “Rufinus says six, but this appears to be an exaggeration.” Bp. Lightfoot l. c. put the coffin on a car and went before it leading a vast concourse of people, singing the psalms of David, while at every pause they shouted “Shame be to all them that worship molten images.”623623    Ps. xcvi. 7 For they understood the translation of the martyr to mean defeat for the demon.


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